Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association speaks in wake of St Leonards livestock deaths

DEVASTATION: The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has spoken of the financial and emotional toll livestock deaths have on farmers. Picture: Phillip Biggs

DEVASTATION: The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has spoken of the financial and emotional toll livestock deaths have on farmers. Picture: Phillip Biggs

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Farmers face emotional and financial stress when livestock is attacked, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said.

TFGA president Wayne Johnson said while animal attacks were not always reported frequently they had a big impact on those whose livestock were lost.

The comments come in the wake of a series of suspected dog attacks at St Leonards.

It’s believed at least four properties in the area were affected by the incidents, which saw at least 20 alpaca and sheep mauled to death overnight on Saturday.

Hobby farmer John Binns lost seven alpacas, including six pregnant females and one sire. Two of the pregnant females on Mr Binns’ farm were still alive and had to be euthanised. The others died from their injuries. 

“It’s very difficult because unless you catch the dogs there can’t be any recrimination,” Mr Johnston said.

“Often when the attacks happen it’s at night and farmers aren’t aware it’s happening.”

Mr Johnston said it was often difficult for farmers to face the next day when they find their animals dead. 

“It’s very hard to wake up to find your sheep mauled and sometimes they find them still alive and have to put them down,” he said.

However it wasn’t just the emotional toll on farmers but the financial one – each animal is worth something commercially to the farmer.

“There’s always a financial loss when they deal with the aftermath of these things, a ewe costs $200 and then you have to factor in the loss of lambs.”

However, farmers do have some rights if they find dogs at large on their properties.

The Dog Control Act states any dogs found at large on primary production land relating to livestock, for example a cattle farm, can be destroyed by a person with the authority to act on behalf of the land owner. 

The act stipulates anyone who destroys a dog must notice their local council within 14 days of the destruction.

Mr Johnston said that would be his advice to any farmers who find dogs on their properties, was to follow the act.

However he said he knew a lot of farmers who didn’t do that – who “gave the dogs another chance.”

Any dog attacks on livestock have to be reported to the region’s local council.

The dogs alleged to have been involved in the St Leonards livestock attacks have yet to be identified.

“Unfortunately, the council has not been able to identify the dogs responsible. Identification is obviously a prerequisite for any successful prosecution, and we continue to urge anyone who may have witnessed roaming dogs in the St Leonards area over the weekend to contact the council.”

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